by Eric Windstorm
To be published on December 1, 2015
by Little, Brown BFYR
Source: ARC giveaway at BEA
Synopsis from Goodreads: Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart. When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.My take: At BEA, the Little, Brown booth had some sort of a game that would determine the perfect book for you. I kept "winning" a book I'd already read and really didn't like. So shoutout to Danielle from Love at First Page, who was one of the people I was walking around with, and somehow figured out how to win Not If I See You First, which was the book I wanted. Thanks, Danielle! (But because I know you have a certain preference about endings, I don't recommend this book for you.)
But let's not get to that part yet. I loved 99% of this book SO much. Parker was my favorite kind of protagonist. (Prickly. I love prickly!) She's been through so much, gone through things that would make most of us just hide under the covers with Netflix for life, but not Parker. She's tough as nails -- I loved that she doesn't take any crap from anyone. She's also blind. And a runner. Yes, she's a bit in the mold of Hazel and Augustus -- whip-smart and mouthy and irreverent. She has a few close friends, but generally she's developed a hard armor that is her protection from the world.
But we soon discover that Parker has one weakness in that armor --Scott Kilpatrick. The two of them had a bit of a thing during middle school and then there was a big misunderstanding and she's been furious at him ever since. Luckily, the two of them went to different high schools, until the district forced them to merge. And of course, guess who turns up in the desk next to Parker's?
Parker being Parker, she will have none of Scott's making nice to her, but continues in her snarky Parker ways, wearing a blindfold (I didn't quite get that; it was a bit like Augustus and his cigarette), sneaking out to go running, running an advice booth for the lovelorn with her friends, meeting a guy at the mall, and tormenting poor Molly, who's been assigned by the school to walk her around.
I loved the way that Not If I See You First addressed all the assumptions we make about others in our very visual culture. And I loved Parker's riffs on how people treat the disabled. And I was happy that Parker showed such huge character growth. She starts off pretty judge-y and tough and by the end of the book had learned to "see" things from other points of view.
All that was great, but there was another aspect of the ending that was really disappointing. I'm completely okay with sad endings and unresolved endings and "that's just real life" endings. But I just felt that this book was giving me HUGE hints that it would have a certain kind of ending and then completely pulled the rug out on me.
Not If I See You First is still one of my favorite YA contemporaries this year, even if the ending bewildered and disappointed me.